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Zero Waste Partnership Program


Commit to Zero Waste by 2035 – Join the Zero Waste Partnership Program!

The Zero Waste Partnership Program is a new way for the City to collaborate with local businesses and organizations on achieving Zero Waste in Philadelphia. Partners take the extra step to report on their Zero Waste practices, including several Zero Waste Action Items and monthly waste diversion rates. Not only does this program encourage Zero Waste practices throughout the city, but it encourages knowledge sharing between the City and Zero Waste Partners: the Partnership will give the City access to additional waste diversion data and give Partners the opportunity to share their best practices with the City and influence future goals. Plus, Partners will earn special incentives for implementing Zero Waste practices, such as eligibility for the Sustainable Business Tax Credit, and exclusive marketing tools from the City.



The goal of Zero Waste is to divert trash – including common recyclables, food waste, clothing, and anything else we manufacture, buy, and use – away from landfills and incinerators. Ideally, all waste would instead be recycled or reused; this process is also called “closed loop” production.


Become a Zero Waste Business Partner In 3 Steps

*If you are a tenant of a larger building and not responsible for submitting a Commercial Waste Report for your property, you can still become a Partner! You will only submit the monthly Zero Waste Partnership form, and your building owner or manager will remain responsible for annual submission of the Commercial Waste Report.

Go To Commercial Waste Report & Zero Waste Partnership Forms

Why Join The Partnership?

  1. It’s a great way to show patrons that your business or organization is committed to making Philadelphia a cleaner and more sustainable city.

  2. Partners are eligible for Philadelphia’s Sustainable Business Tax Credit, which encourages sustainable business practices and the growth of the local clean economy.

  3. Gain access to an exclusive marketing package, including a branded decal to hang at your front window, a Partnership Certificate, and Zero Waste program tools and tips.

  4. Partners will be recognized in the City’s Zero Waste marketing publications and websites.

Tiers of Partnership

Any business or organization in Philadelphia can achieve Partner, Silver, or Gold status! Each tier is achieved by diverting a certain level of waste each month and by implementing Zero Waste practices in your workplace. By completing the three Partnership requirements, your business or organization will automatically achieve Partner status! Increasing your business or organization’s waste diversion rate to 70% and completing 7 out of 10 actions will earn Silver Partnership Status. A 90% waste diversion rate and completion of 9 out of 10 actions will earn Gold Status.


Zero Waste Action Items

To kick off this program, the City has selected 10 Action Items that can qualify your property for various tiers of Partnership. Action 1 is required for Partnership. However, you can select any combination of actions to increase your Partnership tier. Click an Action Item in the list below to expand and learn more.

Action 1 (required for partnership): Implement the actions and initiatives required by the City's waste and recycling ordinances

1. Have a recycling contract in place
2. Educate employees about recycling on a regular/recurring basis
3. Post signage to help patrons and employees properly utilize recycling/composting/waste services
4. Offer source-separated recycling for employees and patrons
5. Follow the City's "no organics in dumpster" regulation

The City’s waste and recycling ordinances require that commercial properties implement certain practices. To fulfill this action, your property must follow the ordinance requirements listed above; each of these items is required by law, and should already be in place at your business. For example, the City regulates against disposing of grindable food waste in licensed commercial dumpsters; food establishments should be equipped with garbage disposals to process food waste, or have a contract with a compost collection service as an alternative.

Action 2: Perform a comprehensive waste audit

Performing a comprehensive waste audit – tracking and documenting how much and what type of waste you’re generating – is a necessary component of achieving a higher waste diversion rate. Conducting a waste audit will better inform your Zero Waste goals, shedding light on what solutions are working for your building and where there’s room for improvement. Achieving a higher diversion rate saves money on waste collection services, reduces environmental impact, and elevates your business or organization to a higher tier of Partnership.

Action 3: Implement a composting program

Composting is an easy way to recycle your organic waste – including food scraps and yard waste – and keep it out of the landfill. Commercial food services are already required to keep food scraps out of the dumpster, and composting provides a disposal alternative that benefits other local organizations. Refer to the Commercial Waste Report Guide for some tips on starting a composting program, and a directory of local composting services. Whether you’re a restaurant facing large amounts of food waste every day, or an office that collects some food scraps at lunch time, composting on any scale is a great way to improve your building’s waste diversion rate.

Action 4: Donate excess food, stock, and/or supplies to special materials collection services, or, host special materials collections events

To check-off this action, your property can incorporate one or several Zero Waste initiatives. Your workplace can host a special materials recycling drive, collecting anything from e-waste to clothing. If your workplace serves as a special materials recycling drop-off location on a regular basis, you have also fulfilled this action. Alternatively, you may choose to donate excess packaged or prepared food, stock, and/or supplies to local organizations on a regular basis.

Action 5: Use or promote the use of recyclable, compostable, and durable materials

Choose to reduce waste from the materials that are commonly used at your place of business, whether they be office supplies, packaging, or service ware. Phase-out single-use materials that are bound for the landfill, and encourage reuse and waste diversion. Encourage your team members and patrons to bring their own reusable cup or bottle, and stop providing paper coffee cups in the break room. Or, make the switch to compostable take out containers and paper bags instead of polystyrene products and plastic bags.

Action 6: Implement a sustainable product purchasing program

Implement a sustainable purchasing program that works for your business model. The U.S. EPA has compiled a directory of some of the leading sources of sustainable purchasing guidance, including summary profiles that will help you choose the best framework for your property. Sustainable purchasing allows you to incorporate Zero Waste up and down your supply chain and further integrate your goals with your business model. Besides impacting your waste diversion rate, a sustainable purchasing program can help your business or organization to better understand its spending and develop more responsible buying practices.

Action 7: Communicate electronically – instead of on paper – whenever possible

Think before you print! At your next meeting, project the agenda on a screen or email a copy in advance, rather than printing copies for everyone. Display your menu in large-print or on screens above the counter, or laminate individual copies for long-term use. Set up online payments for tenants or clients. And of course, if you must print, reuse, or recycle the paper when you’re done! Make the paperless switch whenever possible to fulfill this action and elevate your partnership status.

Action 8: Purchase or obtain gently used workplace furniture or other reclaimed materials for your workplace

Redecorating? Look for second-hand furniture, fixtures, and other materials before you buy new. You’ll avoid a pileup of foam peanuts, cardboard, and plastic wrap, and divert gently used products from entering the landfill (and probably save a little cash!). Similarly, you can donate old furniture and fixtures or hold a company garage sale instead of sending unneeded, but still usable, products to the trash.

Action 9: Incorporate Zero Waste education into new team member orientation and incentivize participation in achieving Zero Waste goals

When bringing in new team members, make sure they’re prepared to commit to your in-house Zero Waste program. Incorporate Zero Waste into training documents and modules so that Zero Waste habits become second nature in the workplace. To encourage participation from your team and patrons long term, implement incentives that align with your goals. For example, vote for a Zero Waste Leader of the Month in your office, or order-in lunch when your workplace hits a major Zero Waste target (just make sure to limit your lunch waste while you’re at it!) You can also incentivize patrons to adopt Zero Waste habits; for example, offer a discount when patrons bring their own reusable bag, or fill up their reusable cup for the price of a small-sized drink.

Action 10: Adopt an in-house Zero Waste Goal and nominate a Zero Waste Program Coordinator

Adopting a Zero Waste goal for your property is an important step towards achieving a higher waste diversion rate. An in-house goal – whether you’re striving for a 90% diversion rate or to encourage your team to nix disposable coffee cups – allows you to define the actions and attitudes impacting waste generation in your workplace. It also creates a more realistic image of what Zero Waste means, making the program more accessible to everyone in the office. A Zero Waste Program Coordinator is best suited to tracking progress towards achieving your goal, can provide Zero Waste education throughout the workplace, and encourages teamwork.

Directions for Completing the Monthly Zero Waste Partnership Form

The building operator or property manager that arranges for waste collection and removal services is responsible for completing the Commercial Waste Report for their building, and should do so prior to completing the Zero Waste Partnership form. If you are not responsible for completing the Commercial Waste Report for your property, please continue to the Zero Waste Partnership form below. Partners must report using this form monthly to retain their status. The process of becoming a Partner is listed below:

Gather the information needed to fill out the form (including the list of materials your property generated during a particular month and the amount of each material generated). Please also have your Office of Property Assessment (OPA) number available.
If you are the building operator or property manager that arranges for waste collection and removal services for your building, file a Commercial Waste Report online for each business location that you manage. Click “View and Print Commercial Waste Report Certificate” to ensure the completed Waste Report is registered with the Philadelphia Recycling Office. You may then return to the portal and click “Add New Zero Waste Partnership Form”. If you are not responsible for completing a Waste Report, you may go directly to the Zero Waste Partnership Form in the portal (see link below).
Upon completing your Partnership form, you should receive an on-screen confirmation. Your Partnership form will then be processed by the Recycling Office. The Recycling Office will be in touch shortly to confirm your Partnership Status, and will provide physical and digital copies of your Zero Waste Partnership Certificate and the Zero Waste Partnership marketing package.
Complete the Zero Waste Partnership form every month in order to maintain your status. You can increase your Partnership tier by completing additional Zero Waste Actions and increasing your waste diversion rate. The information provided in your monthly form should reflect the actions and waste diversion rate and actions completed in the previous month of business. (For example, in November, you will submit waste diversion data for the month of October.)
Actively comply with the provisions in the Commercial Waste Report and the Zero Waste Partnership Form established for the building.                                                                                
For further information please send an email to Thank you for your efforts and your commitment to our city’s future.

Go to the Zero Waste Partnership Form